People have been telling me to see The Incredibles, Pixar’s animated superhero movie for … let me check … 12 years. I finally watched it on the way back from Berlin.
Obviously, the best way to watch a Pixar visual delight is not on a 7-inch screen, compressed to sub-DVD quality, over the roar of a jet engine. Still, I was struck by how far animated features have come in the past 12 years. Compared to the lifelike textures of modern releases (Avatar comes to mind), The Incredibles looked amazingly flat and cartoonish.
That didn’t prevent them from telling a compelling story, and having a lot of fun with classic superhero tropes. The film’s subversion of the genre places it closer to Unbreakable than the latest Marvel monstrosity.
For a cartoon fantasy, I was surprised by the film’s appeal to science and engineering concepts. Specifically, it predicts the emergence of autonomous multicopters six years before the first hackers started building their own from kits. It also invokes “zero point energy” to explain the villain’s power, which puts it at least on par with Iron Man for scientific acumen.
I was also surprised by the level of violence. More than once, the children narrowly escape gruesome death by helicopter blade or machine gun. I wonder if our sensitivities about violence have shifted in the last twelve years. Would Pixar make this movie today?